With April 15th just a few short weeks away, many of us are thinking about our income taxes and wondering why they seem to go up every year. Over time, the government has been spending more and the burden of these additional expenses falls on hardworking Americans, like those of us that live in the 23rd Senate District.
This year, Tax Freedom Day, the day when the average American taxpayer has earned enough money to pay their entire federal, state, and local tax bill for the year, will fall sometime in late April. In 1900, when Tax Freedom Day was first recorded, Americans had paid off all federal taxes by mid-January. The largest increase in taxes took place around World War II, but the federal tax burden never returned to pre-war levels. The earliest Tax Freedom Day since 1963 occurred on April 10th, 2007, but higher tax rates at the federal level have pushed this day back steadily over the past decade. Last year, Tax Freedom Day was on April 21st and it’s expected to be even later this year.
Over the past 60 years, spending at the federal level has increased at rates substantially higher than population growth and inflation and Americans have had to pay for this spending with increased taxes. While the largest tax cuts in recent history occurred in the early 2000s, since taking office in 2008, President Obama has raised taxes by more than $1.5 trillion. His current budget proposal would raise taxes an addition $320 billion. On the other hand, since I took office in 2011, the Wisconsin State Legislature has cut taxes by more than $2 billion. Hopefully we can keep making your state tax bill go down as we work on the state budget for the next two years.
This year, you may notice that it takes a little bit longer to get your state tax return. In response to increasing levels of tax fraud in the past few years, The Wisconsin Department of Revenue will be using some newly created methods to protect Wisconsinites from tax fraud. Tax fraud has been increasing over the last several years and technology is only making it easier for criminals to defraud taxpayers and the Department of Revenue. An identity protection program is used to screen each tax file in order to ensure that fake returns are eliminated. While this does add a little extra time to the filing process and may delay your return, the State is dedicated to preventing identity theft and to ensuring that everyone receives their proper individual tax return.
In addition to it being tax season, it’s also state budget season. Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance is holding public budget hearings throughout the state next week. Wisconsinites are welcome to attend and share their thoughts and concerns about the budget.
If you have questions or comments regarding any state-related issues, you can contact me at Sen.Moulton@legis.wisconsin.gov or (888) 437-9436.